Nurturing Talent Through the Will Skill Matrix

Nurturing Talent Through the Will Skill Matrix

The Will Skill Matrix framework emerges as a strategic tool, primarily attributed to Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard, who introduced the concept in their widely influential book “Management of Organizational Behavior: Utilizing Human Resources.”

The Matrix offers a nuanced approach to understanding and developing team members. This framework, often employed by effective leaders, categorizes individuals based on their will (motivation) and skill levels, providing a roadmap for tailored guidance, challenges, direction, and motivation. Let’s delve into the layers of the Will Skill Matrix and explore how businesses can leverage this framework to unlock the full potential of their teams.

1. Contributors: Guiding and Harnessing Potential

Characteristics: The first quadrant of the Will Skill Matrix shows people who have high motivation and moderate to high skill levels. They are often the most productive and successful in their fields. These employees have a clear vision of what they want to achieve and the ability to overcome challenges and learn from feedback. They are also passionate about their work and enjoy the process of creating value and solving problems.


Guidance and Mentorship: Provide opportunities for skill development while offering guidance and mentorship.

Autonomy and Responsibility: Entrust challenging tasks, fostering a sense of ownership and contribution.

Recognition and Feedback: Acknowledge and appreciate their contributions, reinforcing positive behavior.

2. High Performers: Challenging for Continuous Growth

Characteristics: One of the most desirable qualities in any employee is the combination of high motivation and high skill levels. This means that the person is not only willing to perform their tasks but also capable of doing them well. Such an employee can also inspire others to improve their performance and achieve their goals.


Stretch Assignments: Challenge with tasks that push boundaries and expand skill sets.

Leadership Opportunities: Offer leadership roles or responsibilities to cultivate growth.

Professional Development: Facilitate continuous learning and professional development opportunities.

3. Low Performers: Directing Towards Improvement

Characteristics: The third quadrant of the Will Skill Structure shows People with low motivation and moderate to low skill levels may face challenges in achieving their goals and fulfilling their potential. They may lack the drive, confidence, or resources to pursue their interests and overcome obstacles. They may also need to seek feedback, guidance, and opportunities to enhance their skills and expand their horizons.


Clear Expectations: Communicate expectations and provide specific goals for improvement.

Skill Development Plans: Identify and invest in targeted skill development plans.

Performance Monitoring: Regularly monitor progress and offer constructive feedback.

4. Potential Detractors: Motivating for Positive Change

Characteristics: A common challenge for managers is how to deal with employees who have moderate to high skill levels but low motivation. These employees may have the ability to perform well, but they lack the drive, enthusiasm, or interest to do so.


Motivational Initiatives: Understand individual motivations and implement initiatives to reignite interest.

Recognition and Incentives: Recognize achievements and provide incentives for improved performance.

Alignment with Goals: Align their work with organizational goals to enhance motivation.

Strategic Decision-Making Using the Will Skill Matrix:

Individualized Development Plans: Tailor development plans based on each team member’s position on the matrix.

Succession Planning: Identify potential leaders by assessing not only skills but also motivation levels.

Team Composition: Build well-rounded teams by considering the balance of will and skill across team members.

Final Thoughts:

The Will Skill Matrix transcends traditional performance assessments, offering a holistic view of individuals within a team. By recognizing and addressing both will and skill, businesses can foster an environment of continuous growth, motivation, and optimal performance. Embrace the Will Skill Matrix to guide your talent management strategies, unlocking the full potential of your team and propelling your organization toward sustained success.